Cutting and installing your own countertops can save you thousands of dollars on your home renovation project. Doing it correctly the first time will save you even more! It is important if you are going to be taking this bold move, that you understand the need for very careful measuring beforehand. Obviously, this is something that cannot “sort of” fit but needs to fit exactly. It is not feasible to shave bits off a completed pre-cut cabinet piece, so you’ll want to be sure and get it right!
Of course, the first thing you’ll have to do is to remove the existing built in appliances and fixtures in order to remove your old countertop. This includes removing the old sink, the stovetop, and anything else affixed to the counter.
The other aspect to think about when doing this is that the joint, which is the part of the counter that connects one side to a piece going in a different direction, is the most complicated part as far as cutting goes.
When cutting a countertop to length for a straight side, include an overhang of around an inch at each end of the counter. You can use either a hand saw or a power saw. For a laminate countertop you will need a circular saw with a good blade. For a granite countertop, most of the cutting will be done at the quarry but usually a bit more will need to be done onsite. Granite is a lot trickier than laminate but still do-able with the right tools and know-how.
Place masking tape over the cutting line on a laminate countertop to avoid splintering of the material. When cutting granite, you will need to upgrade your household saw with a diamond cutting blade. You can buy these at a Lowes or Home Depot or similar store and is not too expensive.
Regardless of the countertop material, chipping or splintering is very possible and precautions need to be taken to avoid this. You will also have a lot of dust created when cutting a dry piece of granite. You can use a handheld diamond bladed radial saw with a vacuum attachment that will help cut down on the mess. You will need a contour diamond blade for curved surfaces like sink openings.
You have many choices for the edge design. You can make it either flat, beveled, curved or rounded. Cutting the edges so they meet very exactly at the corners is tricky. Using a tool like an automated edge shaping machine will both cut and polish for you. Obviously, as a DIY’er you are not expected to have this on hand, but you can most likely rent a machine for a low cost again at a home improvement store. Another possibility is hiring a local company to cut the edges for you. You can pay them for just the work you need them to do, rather than paying them to do the entire installation for you, most of which you are able to do on your own. You are generally going to be charged per square foot of the work required and will pay more for sink cutouts. There is also usually a delivery charge and granite is very heavy so keep that in mind.
If you have perfectly cut and measured countertops and you are only doing the installation, that is a little bit simpler and requires less tools. You start with putting on gloves to protect your hands. Then wipe the edges of the cutout countertop down with acetone. Next use a caulk gun to put silicone along the edge. You will put the sink in place and then dry fit the countertops making sure the seams are aligned. Once you have made sure you have a perfect fit, they can be sealed. You will use a vacuum clamp which is a high powered suction cup that actually pulls the seams together.
If it is your first project, you may want to get some help from someone who’s done it before. It would be a terrible waste of time and money to damage material and then have to re-order. This is definitely a project that would be best to take your time with.
View our directory of countertop contractors!
Written By: Bob Jenkins
Budget My Build
P.O. Box 72987
Phoenix, AZ 85050
Office: (602) 579-9660
You must be logged in to post a comment.